Archive of September 24, 2012

Cardinal calls priests to conversion as Year of Faith nears

Lima, Peru, Sep 24, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Cardinal Juan Luis Cipriani of Lima, Peru said the Year of Faith decreed by Pope Benedict XVI should be a time of conversion for priests, so that others “may see the presence of God in us.”

“We priests and religious work with greater enthusiasm. Jesus awaits us, and the first guideline that I give you is that you live with more faith,” he told the priests of his archdiocese Sept. 19 during a monthly retreat.

Th cardinal added that during the Year of Faith – which begins on Oct. 11, the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican II –  priests should express this interior conversion in the way they “celebrate the Mass, preach and prepare their homilies.”  

“I encourage you to spend more time in the confessional.  Always have time, never say I can’t.”

Cardinal Cipriani also asked priests to be united with their bishops, so they can be their main collaborators in motivating the faithful and encouraging them to take part in the Church’s mission.

Priests should express their faith with works, especially in the celebration of the Mass. “If you don’t have works, you are dry,” he told them.

“When a priest does what he is supposed to, people notice.  And people notice in the Mass, in the confessional, in the schools he is in charge of, and they notice because Christ lives in him, and his thoughts are those of Christ,” the cardinal said.

“May Christ enlighten our senses, and for this reason let us pray the Rosary. Thus the joy of the Eucharist will convert our hearts,” he said.

Cardinal Cipriani noted that Pope Benedict XVI has decreed the Year of Faith so that “the faith may more clearly illuminate our encounter with Christ” in a world that has become “relativistic” and “has forgotten about God.”

“Nobody should give in to the temptation to say this is 'just another year,'” the cardinal said.

He called on priests to “encourage collaboration from good volunteers. May there be a greater commitment to the formation of the laity in parishes, schools, campus ministries and ecclesial movements.”

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Pope says Christians politicians must be prophetic voices for dignity

Castel Gandolfo, Italy, Sep 24, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Pope Benedict XVI is encouraging Christian politicians to be prophetic voices in promoting the dignity of every human being. 

“Christians are called to act and express themselves with a prophetic spirit – that is, a spirit capable of seeing in these transformations the incessant and mysterious presence of God in history – and thus to shoulder their newly emerging responsibilities with realism, faith and hope,” Pope Benedict said Sept. 22.

The Pope made his remarks at his summer residence, Caste Gandolfo, where he addressed over 100 politicians who are members of Christian Democrat International, a worldwide coalition of centrist and center-right politicians.

When it comes to forming policy, the Pope stressed that “the order of things must be subordinate to the order of persons, and not the other way around.”

This political perspective, he counseled the lawmakers, “is founded on truth, built up in justice, and animated by love,” and it can be discerned by constant reference to both Holy Scripture and the teachings of the Catholic Church.

Fundamentally, it requires a rediscovered respect for life at all stages and for the family, the Pope stated, drawing a connection between those two areas of concern.

Respecting life “in all its phases from conception to natural end,” including rejecting “any form of eugenics,” is “interwoven with respecting marriage as an indissoluble union between a man and a woman,” which is “the foundation for the community of family life,” he said.

Pope Benedict spelled out the reason for this connection even more explicitly by saying that the family is the “basic cell of society” and is “the root which nourishes not only the individual human being, but the very foundations of social coexistence.”

Therefore, when it comes to making laws, “authentic progress of human society” cannot forgo “policies aimed at protecting and promoting marriage, and the community that derives therefrom,” he said.

The duty to adopt pro-life and pro-family policies is the duty of both the state and the international community, the Pope noted, explaining that this will “invert the tendency towards the growing isolation of the person, which is a source of suffering and corrosion for both individuals and for society.”

As for the present economic crisis, the Pope said this is another area where Christian politicians are called to be “prophetic” and not “limited to responding to the requirements of market logic.” 

“Rather, its central and indispensable goal must remain the search for the common good, correctly understood, and the promotion and protection of the inalienable dignity of the human person.”

The challenge for those in positions of responsibility, “especially if animated by Christian faith,” is to be “strong enough to provide coming generations with reasons for living and hoping.”

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Pope urges care, protection of Colombia's indigenous people

Bogotá, Colombia, Sep 24, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - In a message to Colombia's bishops, Pope Benedict said government leaders should not manipulate or exploit indigenous people in the country but rather protect the communities and their land.  

The Pope sent his message on the occasion of the National Meeting of Indigenous Priests, Religious and Catechists that took place last week in Colombia.

“I implore the Almighty that above all the sacred nature of their lives be protected,” the Pope wrote. “That their existence never be limited, for God does not desire the death of anyone and orders us to fraternally love one another.”

The meeting in Colombia coincided with the commemoration of the 100th anniversary of Pope St. Pius X’s encyclical “Lacrimabili statu indorum.”

“The present-day situation is providential so that, with purity of intention and configured to Jesus Christ, the Way, the Truth and the Life for all mankind, the desire among pastors and the faithful to safeguard the dignity and the rights of indigenous peoples will increase, and these latter will in turn be more willing to carry out their duties, in harmony with the ancestral traditions,” Pope Benedict added.

He also noted that St. Pius X's encyclical “pointed to the need to more diligently work for the evangelization of indigenous peoples and for the constant promotion of their dignity and progress.”

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Catholics encouraged to participate in Year of Faith through sacraments, prayer

Washington D.C., Sep 24, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - The leader of the U.S. bishops' evangelization committee has offered suggestions on ways for the faithful to take part in the upcoming Year of Faith through sacramental participation, prayer and action.

The Year of Faith offers an opportunity for “a renewal of faith and evangelization for the whole Church,” said Bishop David L. Ricken of Green Bay, Wis., who chairs the U.S. bishops’ Committee on Evangelization and Catechesis.
On Sept. 24, Bishop Ricken issued recommendations on ways for Catholics to live the Year of Faith, which begins on Oct. 11 and runs through Nov. 24, 2013.

Announced by Pope Benedict XVI in honor of the 50th anniversary of the Second Vatican Council and the 20th anniversary of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, the upcoming year is intended to “strengthen the faith of Catholics and draw the world to faith by their example.”

Among Bishop Ricken’s suggestions – which were founded upon the guidelines issued by Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith – was regular participation in the Mass.

“The Year of Faith is meant to promote the personal encounter with Jesus,” he said. “This occurs most immediately in the Eucharist.”

He explained that regular Mass attendance can strengthen one’s faith “through the Scriptures, the Creed, other prayers, sacred music, the homily, receiving Communion and being part of a faith community.”

In addition to simply attending Mass themselves, the faithful can also invite their friends to Mass, the bishop added, explaining that although the Year of Faith has a global focus, “real change occurs at the local level.”

“A personal invitation can make all the difference to someone who has drifted from the faith or feels alienated from the Church,” he said.

Furthermore, the Sacrament of Reconciliation can play an important role in spiritual growth, Bishop Ricken added.

“Confession urges people to turn back to God, express sorrow for falling short and open their lives to the power of God’s healing grace,” he said. “It forgives the injuries of the past and provides strength for the future.”

The bishop also encouraged Catholics to learn about the saints, whose witness offers us hope and teaches us how to live as Christians. These holy men and women were sinners who continually strove to grow in their relationship with God, he said, and they give us an example of service through ministry, charity, prayer and everyday life.

Bishop Ricken encouraged Catholics to read the Bible every day during the Year of Faith in order to “become more attuned to the Word of God” and to study the Catechism to deepen their understanding of the Church’s “beliefs, moral teachings, prayer and sacraments.”

He also recommended reading the documents of the Second Vatican Council, which “ushered in a great renewal of the Church.”

The council affected the celebration of the Mass, the laity’s role and the Church’s understanding of itself and those of other faiths, he said, adding that Catholics must understand the council in order to “continue this renewal.”

In addition to prayer and study, the bishop emphasized, the foundational Church teachings “must translate into action.”

He suggested participation at the parish level, in roles such as lector, liturgical musician or catechist, to contribute to the community. He also recommended donations to charity and volunteering to aid those in need.

“This means to personally encounter Christ in the poor, marginalized and vulnerable,” he explained. “Helping others brings Catholics face-to-face with Christ and creates an example for the rest of the world.”

Finally, Bishop Ricken encouraged Catholics to work in their daily lives to adhere to the Beatitudes, which offer an example of virtue and “a rich blueprint for Christian living.”

“It’s precisely the example of lived faith needed to draw people to the Church in the year ahead,” he said.

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Archbishop Gomez calls on voters to incorporate faith into voting

Los Angeles, Calif., Sep 24, 2012 (CNA/EWTN News) - Archbishop Jose Gomez of Los Angeles has called on Catholics to achieve a “unity of life” and let their faith form their political decisions as they prepare to vote this November.

“We have important obligations as citizens. But we have to carry out those obligations always in light of our duty to God,” the archbishop wrote in his Sept. 21 column for The Tidings.

The column is the first in a series he will write on the principles that should guide Catholics in thinking about this year's elections.

Archbishop Gomez observed that Catholics have a dual temptation with regards to faith and politics. They can either separate their beliefs from how they vote, or they can use their religion to justify their political projects.

But these two options both fail to bring about a “unity of life” in which the faith shapes “how we live and act,” and forms the “decisions we make in public life and who we vote for.”

Archbishop Gomez referred to Jesus' statement that one should “render unto Caesar what is Caesar's, and to God what is God's.”

Because Catholics live in the world, we are called to work for the common good of society, to obey just laws, and to respect society and government—that is what we render unto Caesar, he said.

What we render unto God is faith, which means that “we can't forget about the Church's teachings and the demands of God's law when we are engaged in our public life.”

“The most important thing is to form our consciences. We have to make sure our participation and our contributions always reflect the moral and religious values that we find in the Scriptures and in the teachings of our Church,” Archbishop Gomez wrote.

When Catholics go to the voting booth, he said, there are non-negotiable aspects of Catholic social teaching that they should recall. Abortion and euthanasia, and families based on a marriage between a man and a woman are among those non-negotiables. These issues cannot be disagreed about among Catholics who have formed their consciences with the Church, he said.

But many issues are debatable among Catholics who have well-formed consciences. Archbishop Gomez pointed to issues such as taxes, government spending, how to deal with immigration and helping the poor as examples of topics that are matters of prudential judgment.

In these areas “sincere and faithful Catholics are always going to have legitimate differences of opinion over how best to apply the Church’s moral principles,” he wrote.

“What’s important is that we are always trying to think and act with the mind of Christ and the mind of the Church.”

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